My childhood home had a vibe of true refuge.
Even though it was almost a hundred-year-old Victorian home, with something always falling apart and in constant need of a paint job, there was authentic happiness there. It’s hard to explain why it felt like a refuge when the exterior looks would say quite the opposite.
All I can say is that when the time came to sell it, I walked into every room of the house to say goodbye and give thanks for all the happy memories. I know that may seem strange, but the house held a vivid personality that cherished the five kids who grew up there. In fact, years later when the house burned to the ground, I cried buckets of tears for that place. It was as if I had lost a dear old friend.
Most of us hold a deep sense of nostalgia for our childhood home. I don’t think I’m alone in that feeling. But looking back with adult eyes, it makes me wonder why that tumble-down place held such love for me.
What makes a home a true refuge?
Right about now I’m guessing that you are thinking I’m going to launch into discussions of chunky throws, pumpkin spiced candles, and seasonal mums. Those are all great and definitely make your home welcoming too. If you want to geek out with Martha Stewart refuge advice, here’s some good stuff for making a cozy fall retreat.
But I’m talking more about what makes the soul of a place – truly a sanctuary-style home no matter what the season, no matter what is in fashion. Clearly, home is more than how it’s decorated. But what makes it a refuge for our hearts?
Now I’m not a refuge expert nor do I get how to make your home feel like it fell out of Pottery Barn. That’s not what I’m after here. But I figure there have to be some common threads that make a house feel like a true refuge for the soul. Below are a few thoughts to consider.
Three Non-Martha Stewart Style Thoughts on What Makes a Home a Refuge
(With no disrespect to Martha, of course)
1. Welcome with Joy, or Cowbells.
My growing-up home had a cowbell on the doorknob to announce any visitors. Partly out of necessity because it was a big place, the cowbell tinkling carried a happy, joyous welcome to anyone who entered our home. I think the best homes do that – they give a hearty welcoming whether it’s with cowbells or hugs, open arms, loving care. What greets visitors when they walk through your door? Consider how to welcome others with joy the minute they enter.
2. Set Your Stuff Down.
The minute we came home as kids, we happily set everything down. Our hallway had an area with rows of hooks and a huge bench for stuff. Bags, backpacks, coats, boots, you name it, all were discarded as soon as you got in the door. In truth, we all long for a place where we can arrive and set all of our troubles down. Be the kind of refuge that invites space for anyone to set down all of their burdens. Maybe that is making heart space to being truly present to each other. Perhaps it's having a physical space for putting things down. UItimately, the goal is to create a sense of peacefulness that says "go ahead and set down your cares."
3. Nurture with What You Have.
When the windows were fogged up in the kitchen of my childhood home, I knew something good was in my future. I can remember coming home from school to the sweet aroma of Apple Betty, homemade bread, lasagna, soups, and stews. My mom longed to be the next Julia Child. With five kids and limited funds, I have no idea how she managed to pull off the feasts she created. What my mom did well was to make everything feel like a celebration. Even if it was just bread and butter on a rainy Tuesday. With her cooking, her conversations, her food, and loving care, everything was about nurturing and tending well for all those who entered in. Maybe cooking isn’t your thing. But truly it’s about using what you have to nurture those well in your midst.
What Makes A Refuge For You?
Just as all homes are a personal reflection of our hearts, your refuge may look different than mine. Regardless of the style, décor, food, or fashion, we can all agree that creating a refuge for our families starts with the heart. More than the contents, our homes are the chance we have to love others well. Make it a place that welcomes with joy, invites others to set their burdens down, and nurtures in love.
And if you want to add in Martha’s chunky throws and pumpkin spiced candles, that can be a bonus.