Emilie Barnes has helped me through the years to keep in mind that it is important to try and create a special, homey environment with just some small added touches wherever we are.
We lived in a one-bedroom (later we tacked on 2 tiny bedrooms off of our bedroom), very small home with seven children for ten years before we built this home on the same property. My kids have only good memories there though it was cramped and hard to keep clean (I love the resilience of kids….they only remember the good times).
It wasn’t easy to keep a place that was so cramped homey but we must have done something right because their memories are good. We did have a special place for our “altar” where Our Lady’s statue resided in the living room where we prayed. And we tried to keep things picked up as best we could.
It has been easier in a more spacey environment to add special touches that don’t cost much. I pick up tea pots whenever I can (usually to replace the ones that broke in the interim) in order to have a couple of places where we can display them. And because I get them at thrift shops, etc. (except for the ones that are gifts) I don’t freak out when a grandchild happens to break one. I remind myself that people are more important than things! 🙂
It is the simple and small things of life that can give a lift to a tired spirit. I have found that music, flowers, and candles mean a lot. These small things may seem insignificant but they add a special “something” to daily life.
Anyway, I do love Emilie Barnes books and this book in particular. Here is an excerpt:
From Emilie Barnes:Simple Secrets to a Beautiful Home: Creating a Place You and Your Family Will Love
Sharing Creativity is not just for self-fulfillment. Much of the joy of creativity comes in sharing it with others. We learned that truth first as children as we crayoned masterpieces for people we loved.
And we still experience the joy of creating and sharing when we cross-stitch a Scripture for a friend, write up a recipe for a new acquaintance, or hand-letter a special card for a coworker who has been promoted.
Once when I was recovering from surgery, a dear friend, Ginny, shared her creativity with me in a very special way. She showed up in my hospital room with a “recovery kit” for the twelve days after my operation. In a pretty basket nestled twelve separately wrapped gifts labeled “Day 1,” “Day 2,” “Day 3,” and so on.
Among the items that I so appreciated during those painful days were a sweet card, a refrigerator magnet, a puzzle to keep me very busy, a bag of potpourri, a can of chicken soup, a jar of “bubble-stuff” to blow away my misery, an apple to help keep the doctor away, an audiotape to keep me singing and happy, some Chapstick to keep my lips well moistened as I played “show and tell” about my surgery, funny cards and cartoons to make me laugh (very carefully, so I wouldn’t pop a stitch!), “thank you” stickers to brighten up my letters, a cookie cutter, and some candy.
What fun and friendship Ginny and I shared along with the gift of her creativity-which, of course, was really the gift of herself.
A Legacy of Joy
One of the most valuable ways we can share the secret of creativity is by modeling it for our children.
We give them a legacy of joy when we teach them to use their own God-given creativity to instill beauty into their own lives and homes.
When we moved into our Barnes Barn, our daughter, Jenny, and her husband bought our two-story home. The house was dark and very country-not at all their look. At that time funds were quite tight for this young couple, and yet they felt it was important to set aside a small redecorating budget.
Together they stripped wallpaper and painted all the rooms white. What a transformation took place! The house looked larger, brighter, and happier. Sheets in solids and florals became valances in all the rooms. The dark living room shutters, also painted white, took on an open, airy look. Jenny took birch tree branches and formed them into wreaths.
She added dried and silk flowers, twisted ribbon about, and had beautiful, feminine pieces of art to embellish the fireplace and hang over the bed. Bright bedspreads from a sale catalog transformed the children’s rooms into cheerful places to play and dream.
As I watched Jenny work to transform that little house, I rejoiced to see her God-given creativity translated into a warm, happy environment for the people I love.
Today Jenny and her family live in another house which her special creative touch has transformed into a home. And she is passing along the gift of creativity, just as she learned it from Bob and me.
These days I love to see our granddaughter, Christine, use her creativity to decorate her own room, using resources she has at hand to make her environment into a welcoming, original place.
Women over the ages have used their creativity to fill their homes and lives with beauty. But creativity in the home is by no means limited to women.
Our son, Brad, two years out of college, found a real dump of a duplex in Manhattan Beach, California. He went into partnership with a college friend and bought the property. They planned to live in half of the duplex and rent out the back unit.
From our point of view, those boys had paid far too much money for such dilapidated property, even if it was two blocks from the beach. It was hard for us even to think creatively about this project.
We wanted to tell our son what a mistake he had made, but we held our tongues and pitched in to help him make the duplex livable. I remember the weekend we spent helping Brad and Jay strip, clean, and paint. But what a change took place over the following week!
Bookcases were filled and furniture was arranged; working together, those two young men created a place that was perfectly suited to their needs. But Brad and Jay had even more creative plans for that property.
Within the next two years they were offered twice what they had paid for it-but no sale. Instead, they tore down the building and built two separate three-story units, complete with ocean views, to bring their brides home to. What creative foresight!
From our little family came children who learned creativity at home and then used that creativity to establish their own very different look. They have created their own special retreats to come home to after busy, hardworking days.
And one day their children will use their God-given creativity to impart warmth and beauty to their own homes.
Exercising our creativity is one way to be responsible stewards of the gifts and talents God has given us-and to rejoice in our identity as God’s children, made in his image.
As images of the Creator, we have the opportunity to fashion our lives and our homes into works of art. We can choose to be creative today and every day!
Take the time today to pick a bouquet and light a candle to grace your table. If you don’t have flowers of your own, take your kids and go and pick some wildflowers. You will be surprised how it will lift the minds and hearts of yourself and your loved ones. It brings a little sunshine into daily living.
Lovely reviews from Amazon on my book, Cheerful Chats for Catholic Children: Thank you, Dear Ladies!
“Love it! Love it! Love it! A grace filled book that gives young children a faith perspective, more of a God’s eye view if you will, of daily events.All the ups and downs of life are considered in relation to Christ and His Blessed Mother. My own grandchildren love hearing these tales every night. The stories give them hope, security and understanding.”
“I’ve long been wanting a book on various virtues to help my children become better Catholics. But most books focused on the virtues make being bad seem funny or attractive in order to teach the child a lesson. I’ve always found them to be detrimental to the younger ones who’s logic hasn’t formed. This book does an awesome job in showing a GOOD example in each of the children with all the various struggles children commonly struggle with (lying, hiding things, being grumpy, you name it.) But this book isn’t JUST virtue training… it’s also just sweet little chats about our love for God, God’s greatness, etc…
And the best thing of all? They are SHORT! I have lots of books that are wonderful, but to be honest I rarely pick them up because I just don’t have the time to read a huge, long story. These are super short, just one page, and very to the point. The second page has a poem, picture, a short prayer and a few questions for the kids to get them thinking. It works really, really well right before our bedtime prayers and only takes a few minutes at most.
If you like “Leading the Little ones to Mary” then you will like these… they are a little more focused on ALL age groups, not just little ones… so are perfect for a family activity even through the teenage years, down to your toddler”