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  • Lisa Popcak

Principle 5: I Make Faith the Source of Warmth in Our Home

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

expectations.


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

calendar.


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.

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