We don't live in a perfect world. All around us, terrible things are happening: wars, crimes, and all sorts of perversity we don't want our dear children to know about. Sometimes, it feels as though even a temporary escape is impossible, unless you retire to a summer cottage somewhere in Lapland - which isn't an option for most of us, including me (as much as I'd love to).
We can't ignore reality. But it's part of our sacred work to provide a safe, comfortable, secure, welcoming, nurturing haven here at home - for our husbands, who return tired and in need of rest after a long, hard day at work; for our littles, who need to grow and mature before they are ready to face the hardships of this world; for older children, who need to feel there's a place to return to where they will be welcomed, held and loved.
This is why we must be very careful about what and who (and when, and how much) we let into our homes, into our lives, and into the lives of our precious dear ones. I've been in homes when the TV is on at all hours when the family is awake - and it's so easy to be lost in anxiety when you listen to its alarming messages. Tension, agitation and anxiety sell, so this is mostly what you will find on TV. I've been in homes where parents don't want the children to read secular newspapers, yet leave those newspapers spread out on the coffee table and say, "don't touch these". Can you think of a more foolproof way to make sure the children do read those newspapers?
We can't forever shelter our family from the world, but we can protect our home, our little corner of the world, from negative influences. I'm not talking only about the dangerous, the immoral and corrupt, but also about the ugly, vulgar and unlovely - superficial books, tasteless music, and hundreds of websites with thousands of articles and interactive games which don't contribute to the development of mind or heart.
Surround yourself by lovely things that set a positive tone to your home. Cheerfully do your housework to good, uplifting music. Read good books - inspiring, educational books that feel like visiting with a good old friend every time you read through them. Do hand crafts and use them to decorate your home. Bake, cook, write, paint, work in the garden, enjoy the rustle of wind while you hang out the laundry in your back yard or on your balcony. Learn new skills. Have people over for tea, keep in touch with good old friends, call your family regularly. Limit time-wasters as much as possible, because time is so precious, and an idle mind is dangerously fruitful ground for discontentment and negative attitudes.
Enjoy the present. Every day is a gift that will never return. Every day is another step in independence taken by your children, so enjoy them while they are little bundles in your arms. Savor those chubby little cheeks, the tiny hands, the precious little feet. We don't know how long we have, so now is the perfect time to love those dear husbands, children, parents, grandparents and friends of ours.
Take the time to enjoy simple things. Each of them is a gift - every cup of tea with fresh home-baked cookies, every child's kiss, every dish waiting in the sink to be washed. Don't over pack your life with activities that might be good and worthwhile, but will turn your days into one hectic race when there are too many of them.
Take the time, every day, to pray and realize that God is Love. And every thing we love and enjoy here on earth is a reflection of His deep, everlasting love.
This is a reminder to myself as much as to anyone else. I chose this photo from our garden as an illustration, because there's something very pure and beautiful in this first single white flower among the bare branches.
I hope your day is as lovely as mine. I have so much more to write, but I must go because so many things are calling to be done. Cooking, a walk to the grocery store, a garden to tend to. A little baby to nurture, hold and love. I hope today will be a day of happiness and cherishing the gifts we all have - too many to count.