I think we would all enjoy a warm, loving home life. We might yearn for it even more if we didn’t
grow up in one. It can give all the family members a sense of security, as well as a sense of
rightness about who we are. A warm and loving home is extremely beneficial to the mental
health of all the family members.
Additionally, researchers find that people for whom faith was at the root of the warmth in their
home growing up are less likely to leave their childhood faith in adulthood. If they leave, they will
be more likely to be drawn back, especially once they are raising children themselves.
We all deserve a warm and loving home. Not on our own merit of course, but because we are
children of God made in his image and likeness. He shares his divine dignity with us, and
dwelling in a place that lovingly upholds that dignity is what we intuitively long for.
If we had a chance to live in the same household as Jesus, wouldn’t we want him to feel
honored, comfortable, safe, cozy, listened to, appreciated, and loved? We would want to give
that to him to honor his dignity as God’s son and show him how much we love him.
That’s the kind of home we should want for our families as well, because we honor our status as
God’s children when we do, and help each other live into that dignity.
But what does a warm and loving home look like?
We are bombarded with images of what our homes could look like. Decorating shows, every
social media platform, magazines, and stores dedicated to home decor, give us a zillion ways to
make our homes beautiful. Sometimes all that content can make us feel like we’ll never have it
together enough to have a pretty, perfect home.
The good news is that creating a warm, loving home isn’t about beautiful decor. It’s about
attention to the relationships in the family.
Too often, we put off building relationships with our family members until the house is clean, the
homework is finished, the semester is over, the crisis is past, the emails are answered, etc. Of
course, it never all resolves itself. The world never stops spinning to allow us to focus solely on
our family life.
This is not new to the social media age (although it may heighten it). We see this dynamic
played out in the very famous scripture of Mary and Martha. Jesus is visiting the home of the
two sisters. Martha does what most of us would do. She gets to work to provide a clean space,
a wonderful meal, and all the things that one would do when having an honored guest visit their
home. Mary just plops herself down at Jesus’ feet and visits with him. Martha, feeling like she’s
been stuck with all the work, gets cranky (just as many of us would). She goes to Jesus and
tells him to tell Mary to get up and help her. But then Jesus says, “Martha, Martha, you are
anxious and worried about many things. There is only one thing, and Mary has chosen the
better part, and it will not be taken from her.”
Aren’t we as moms anxious and worried about many things, especially these days? But creating
a warm and loving home can actually do wonders to reduce our anxiety and worry and that of
our children. But, as this scene shows, it’s not about the constant business of creating and
maintaining that space. It’s about creating moments of connection with our family. Think of the
scene again. Mary just sits on the floor at Jesus’ feet. She’s not caught up in formality or making
a good impression. She’s caught up in Him.
It’s moments of connection that our children’s hearts long for. It’s moments of connection, when
we can get past the tyranny of our to-do lists, that our own hearts long for.
When we aren’t having those moments of connection, we get burned out and think, “Why am I
doing all this? Is it all worth it?” It’s when we have those moments of connection that it all
miraculously becomes worth it.
We see the holy significance of this when we think of what we read of Jesus’ mother Mary in the
bible and the images of her that art has given us. We never see how she decorated her home.
We have no descriptions of how hard she worked to keep her house clean or how beautifully
she plated a meal. What we do have are stories and images of how present she was to her son,
including standing by Him through His entire passion and death. In these stories, she didn’t
necessarily DO anything that she could check off a to-do list. But she was fully present.
This kind of maternal presence is what every child longs for. When they have a bad dream, they
call for mom. We don’t have to DO anything. We just have to be there. When they feel excited
about an accomplishment, we hear, “Hey mom! Look at what I can do!” When they are
struggling, they want their mom’s help and comfort. It is mom’s presence they yearn for.
And you know what, in those moments, they don’t care if you haven’t vacuumed or what you
look like. They aren’t noticing if you have your makeup on, if you're dressed in an awesome
outfit, or if you're looking your worst because you just woke up, or you're in the middle of
scrubbing the bathroom. All your child cares about is that you are present, and they feel safe,
and loved by you. Because your love, attention, and presence affirms their dignity in Christ and
assures them they are someone worth being present to.
Because we are God’s children, we long to connect with the feeling/knowledge/experience of
God in the midst of all the brokenness and difficulty of the world. We get glimpses of our
connection to God through our moments of heart-to-heart connection with others.
As mothers, we are called to fill our children up with these moments and through them, give our
children a sense of the depth of God’s love for them. These moments give them a sense of how
they deserve to be treated as a child of God, and how they should treat others, as children of
God, as well.
But how do we get them?
Moments of connection do not have to be contrived, beautifully detailed, or Instagramable. In
fact, if we post EVERY special moment we have with our kids, we risk making them feel
objectified, and that “likes” are more important than your relationship with them. If social media
is part of how you provide for your family, it is important to set clearly stated boundaries. For
instance, “I need a half-hour to take pictures. After that, the equipment goes away, and I’m all
yours” is a good way to set those boundaries for yourself while managing your family’s
Yet moms have fallen into this pattern way before social media. We might put all our energy into
the perfectly presented Christmas/Christmas activity. We might put all our hopes for catching up
with our family, or the kids finally getting along, into that one week of vacation we desperately
need. We might only let ourselves have fun with our kids when we get to that mega theme park.
Even if all those things go perfectly, they are too few and far between to fix any relationship
deficit that exists from not having a consistently close relationship. Of course, those big
moments rarely go perfectly, and if we have all our energy, hopes, and money focused on them,
then anything that does go wrong can feel almost catastrophic.
Now to be clear, no mom does this kind of thing intentionally. It’s just how life seems to work for
various reasons. But we can do something to break the cycle by building warm, nurturing
moments into our ordinary days.
We begin by intentionally looking for opportunities to connect during the day. Little things like
making packed lunches together in the evening, folding laundry together, or turning off the music
and taking out the ear pods when driving somewhere can allow us to just share time and catch
up with each other. When my oldest daughter was in high school, we made it a habit to have a
cup of tea and get ready in the same space every morning just to get some time together. Look
for any opportunity and tweak it to work for you as a moment of connection.
The next step is to actively schedule moments of connection each day and each week. Let’s
start with daily. Many of us feel like there isn’t a second to really connect with our children during
the day, and there’s no denying that with all that is expected from families now that it can be a
challenge. Yet when we know how much our children, and even we, can benefit from real
heart-to-heart connection we can see how important it is to schedule time onto our family
Get the family together once a week (perhaps Saturday morning over breakfast) and look over
the coming week’s schedule. Discuss where you can fit in connection time. For instance, there
are a lot of games that only take 15 minutes to play. Can you fit in that 15 minutes to actually
have fun together right after dinner, first thing in the morning to start the day in a happy way, or
right before bed. Be creative!
Other ideas include reading a chapter of a book together, taking a walk together, working on a
project together. What would give you space to create connection? The task doesn’t matter. The
time to connect does.
Now please don’t think that I’m saying that an orderly home, or creating a beautiful atmosphere
is antithetical to creating connection to our family. Those things and little thoughtful details can
help our family members feel special and loved when they are done to enhance our sense of
well-being and our focus on each other. We just have to remember to put the relationship
before the staging. When we do, we invite God to help us remember how much he loves us
through the love we show one another.