Welcoming the Holy Ghost into our Homes

After giving a talk on the Gift of the Holy Ghost at a baptism, imageI was asked by a few in attendance to share my ideas and notes for use as a Family Home Evening lesson/ activity (link to the lesson/ activity is below).   While organizing and adding to the talk and handout, I was reviewing additional talks and scriptures and came across the talk “The Unspeakable Gift” given by Joseph B. Wirthlin at the April 2003 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,  There were a few quotes that were ideal to share:

“ In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord calls the gift of the Holy Ghost “the unspeakable gift.” imageIt is the source of testimony and spiritual gifts. It enlightens minds, fills our souls with joy,7 teaches us all things, and brings forgotten knowledge to our remembrance. The Holy Ghost also “will show unto [us] all things what [we] should do.”

“If [we] would open [our] hearts to the refining influence of this unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, a glorious new spiritual dimension would come to light.”

As we apply the scripture’s teachings, we see how the Holy Ghost can influence our lives, bring us closer to our Savior, bringing us to know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and testify of truth.  We must be worthy to receive such a gift, we must prepare our minds, bodies, and spirits to be open to that influence.  But what of our surroundings?  Do our homes reflect that same personal attitude to be worthy of the spirit.  Is home a place that the Holy Ghost is welcome?  Have we prepared our homes mentally, physically, and spiritually to receive Him? 

“Brothers and sisters, do we turn away the still, small voice? Do we do things that offend the Holy Ghost? Do we allow influences into our homes that drive the Spirit from our homes? The type of entertainment that we permit into our homes will certainly have an impact on the power of the Holy Ghost. Much of the entertainment of the world is offensive to the Holy Ghost. Surely we should not watch movies or television shows that are filled with violence, vulgar language, and immorality.

I invite you to ponder individually in a humble and prayerful manner and ask yourself: “Do I have the Spirit in my life? Am I happy? Am I doing anything in my life that is offensive to the Spirit and preventing the Holy Ghost from being my constant companion?” Have the courage to repent, if needed, and again enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

Do we enjoy the influence of the Holy Ghost in our homes? Are we doing anything as a family that is offensive to the Spirit? Can we more effectively invite the Holy Ghost into our homes?”

“Our homes need to be more Christ-centered. We  imageshould spend more time at the temple and less time in the pursuit of pleasure. We should lower the noise level in our homes so that the noise of the world will not overpower the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost. One of our greatest goals as parents should be to enjoy the power and influence of the Holy Ghost in our homes. We should pray and study the scriptures. We could sing the hymns of the Restoration to invite the Holy Ghost into our home. Regular family home evening will also help.”

“The Unspeakable Gift” given by Joseph B. Wirthlin at the April 2003 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Download the Family Home Evening Lesson/ Activity here: 
The Gift of the Holy Ghost – Talk – Lesson – Activty – with Handout

Welcoming Home

Around the mid-Atlantic area of the US East Coast it is quite common to drive by homes that have glowing candles in the windows, this is a custom that is so common, locals rarely notice it.  A friend, visiting from the west, had pointed them out asked why they were seemingly everywhere.  I hadn’t realized the oddity and simply stated it is an old tradition of a welcoming home.    

While there are many links to the custom coming from Colonial and earlier times, they share a similar purpose to greet and welcome quests and loved ones.  candle lightThe warm glow of candle light in a window would guide travelers to the warmth and security of a home.  This was an especially welcoming gesture for guests traveling from far away, often coming across dark country roads and perhaps inclement weather.  We typically leave the porch light on today for expected visitors.  Candles lit in the window would also serve as a way of announcement, announcing a birth or other joyous occasion and for celebrations and holidays. This was also symbolic of steadfast love and remembrance during times of war, with a promise the candle in the window would be lit every night awaiting for a soldiers’ safe return.  My own grandparent’s home, done in colonial taste has a candle (battery with timer) lit candle in every window, there is a soft glow that emanates from the house.  .

More common today we see candles as a part of Christmas and Hanukah decorations and traditions, each with their own meaning. the Jewish holiday of Hanukah celebrates the miracle of eight nights of light from oil enough for only one night. Christmas candles celebrate the season of the miracle of Christ’s humble birth.  plastic plug in window candleAs a child, our Christmas decorations always included plastic candles that we would place in each window, they served as a glowing reminder of the season, I loved their soft glow, they served as my favorite night light. Candle light evokes a quiet reverencing hush. There are other meanings for having a candle in the window at Christmas than celebration or appearance, in Irish tradition it is a symbol of faith and welcoming the Christ Child into your home and hearts.

[Candles in the window are] a symbolic gesture, to those ancient travelers who could find no shelter, that there is room in this home for them and the coming child.  [This is] still a favorite traditional Irish Christmas decoration, harkens back to that ancient Christmas Eve, when Mary and Joseph could find no shelter.  It is a symbol of Irish hospitality, candle-in-the-windowtheir way of welcoming Mary and Joseph…and any travelers who might happen to pass by looking for a warm place to stay.

In the days when it was illegal (and dangerous) to practice the Catholic faith in Ireland because of the oppressive Penal Laws, the candle in the window of Irish homes at Christmas also signaled traveling priests that this was a home where they would be welcome and where they could safely conduct the traditional Irish Catholic Christmas Mass. http://www.fantasy-ireland.com/candle-in-the-window.html

Whether welcoming one home to safety or celebration, a candle in the window was a symbolic gesture.  welcome_mat_xlarge[1]How do we create and symbolize a welcoming spirit in our homes today?  Ask yourself what feeling welcome means to you, perhaps it is warmth and kindness, love, sincerity, and compassion – how can you symbolize that in your home. What is representative of those things?  In many homes I see the words (in art form) love, home, family, welcome, joy – but more than a physical declaration does your home reflect those feelings? Does your home guide others there to retreat to safety from the world outside, do you welcome celebration and have joy in the announcement of faith and family?  Is the “welcome” mat at your front door or the candles in your window a sincere representation of that welcoming spirit or just pretty pleasantries. 

As the holiday season approaches consider how your home can be a welcome respite to the world outside.  Consider what can you do to embrace the welcoming spirit that Christmas brings and keep it through out the year. 

As always, Love your home.

 

Inspired Spaces

“Life is not measured by the number of breathes we take but by the places and moments that take our breath away.”

Define Inspiration: Inspiration \In`spi*ra”tion\, n. [F. inspiration, L. inspiratio. See Inspire.] 1. The act of inspiring or breathing in; breath; specifically physiologic, the drawing of air into the lungs, accomplished in mammals by elevation of the chest walls and flattening of the diaphragm; — the opposite of expiration. Beach side walk, Rhode Island2. The act or power of exercising an elevating or stimulating influence upon the intellect or emotions; the result of such influence which quickens or stimulates; as, the inspiration of occasion, of art, etc. 

“The word inspire comes from the Latin word for inspirare, which means to breath upon or into. When we inspire others, we are living from our higher selves. When we are being inspired, we expand beyond what we previously were, or know our selves to be. Our lives have new breath. Our soul and our actions are one.” Jan Gordon: Executive, Career & Personal Coach, Ten Ways to Find Your Inspiration, emphasis added. 

What inspires you? not sure, find out: Ten Ways to Find Your Inspiration.

What places or moments take your breath away? Baby EthneThink of a moment perhaps it was the birth of a child, your wedding day, an accomplishment, witnessing a miracle, surviving a tragedy, or connecting with history.  

Think of places that left you awestruck.  There are so many powerful and inspirational places. We flock to these places, they call to us.    Appalachian Trail Park MD Overlooking PAWe add them to our bucket lists and report on their majestic qualities.  We tend to see these easiest in nature: the pinnacle of a mountain, magnificent waterfalls and waterways, the beauty and mystery found only in the depths of the sea, the vastness of desert landscapes and the amazing natural formations that could only be wrought by the hand of God.  We can also experience this awe in man made structural form – whether we are amazed at the ingenuity and complexities of man’s ability, we connect with a place for its historical or personal significance, or perchance we share deep emotional ties.  We reverence these places, they are destinations that we take with us the rest of our lives, they shape our experience and influence every part of us.   They give us new breathe. 

As an Interior Designer, one of these amazing places is Newport, Rhode Island.  Touring the beaux-art mansions www.newportmansions.org Breakers Gateevery time I enter the Breakers I am inspired, at first approach this ominous yet incredibly decorative main gate sets the tone, something incredible awaits just beyond the wall and gate, after all gates, fences, walls serve two purposes to keep something in or keep something else out.  Once inside I am always taken with the level of ornament and attention to the tiniest detail and lavishly so.  My favorite room is the Dining Room,Breaker's Dining Room it always takes my breath away – I can hardly take in it’s majesty, I can’t help but feel small, yet privileged and honored to be able to stand in that room and take it in – I am inspired.

 

 

 

 

I have similar feelings when I enter the Temple, especially the Celestial Room, Washington D.C. LDS Templeonly with an added spiritual connection  and sacred obligation. I feel privileged to enter such a sacred place I only want to add to its goodness – I am inspired.  Each Temple has a Celestial Room, each are unique in design, however all evoke heavenly feelings, ethereal and sacred special. Celestial room “The celestial room symbolizes the exalted and peaceful state that all may achieve through living the gospel of Jesus Christ. This room represents the contentment, inner harmony, and peace available to eternal families in the presence of Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.” excerpt from: Inside the Temple 

Do your surroundings inspire you? Does your Home inspire you? How would it be to always be surrounded by the influence of such inspirational places?  Would it change the way you live, perhaps the way you treat others?  So ask yourself: Do you treat your home as a place you are privileged to enter, with an attitude of  wanting to add to its goodness?  Do you treat those in it with love and kindness fitting for such a place?  Have you surround yourself with what inspires you?

I encourage you to seek after the things that inspire you – faith, family, friends, love, service, talents and hobbies, Delaware Beach Sunsetcommunity and professional involvements, associations and clubs, find inspiration in moments take time to listen, enjoy someone’s company, read a good book or even just inspiring quotes, take a walk, watch the sun rise or set, enjoy an unending view, take a day trip, make living special, take a deep breath and appreciate where you are.

Be Inspired, seek for inspiration! Then, take that inspiration and create inspired spaces – your spaces – your creations – filled with you – your passions and loves to be enjoyed by those you love.

As always, Love your Home – make it a place you love, a  place you share love, a place that inspires others by the love that is felt.

Art Project: Love your Home

Love your Home Art Projects: Ideas to cherish your home and remember homes you loved.

Declare your Love!  “Love is Here”, “Love”, “Love our Home”, “Our Home is Built by Love”, “Love Builds our Home”, “Love is spoken here”, “Home is filled with love”… Write, paint, vinyl appliqué, stitch, print, and/ or frame your love. Most importantly, let it serve to remind you to live it.

Family Photo. Make it a tradtion to take a family photo in front of your home, it is part of your family. Frame it, display it.

Love at Home.  Print and frame the words to Love at Home by John Hugh McNaughton you can copy them from the Love your Home post. Place it somewhere it can serve as a cosntant reminder of love at home.

Photograph, draw, paint a picture of your home.      One of my favorite gifts to give friends moving away or to celebrate a purchase or sale is a picture of their home, especially if it was their first home or a place they put down roots. The drawing to the right is of a baltimore  city rowhome  in ink and chalk. Let your children paint or draw pictures of your home, frame it, hang it, love it.

Photograph architectural or favorite details & features. This is a great way to cherish and remeber homes your loved.  Revisit a childhood home and capture some of the details.

Reverence Home.  Print and frame the words to the poem from the Living Graciously post. Place it somewhere it can serve as a constant reminder of how we enter and treat our home.

House Love key progression. Frame your old house keys.  A great idea from www.younghouselove.com by way of apartmenttherapy.com

 

Love your Home

Love at home

The beautiful poetic words and tune of “Love at Home” by John Hugh McNaughton in
1860 describes the joy and blessings that abound when there is love at home; in
reading those lyrics who wouldn’t you want to live in that kind of an environment,
truly these are heavenly attributes.

Having that kind of experience – a love at home experience – is contingent on how we
treat each other, our individual and collective attitudes and perspectives.  That kind of experience can be had in any home small or grand and with any budget, after all home is where the heart is.  Is your home full of love?  Does that love pour out of your home?

Do you love being home? Do you love your home?  Think about your home – what does it mean to you? Is it just shelter, your hobby, your life’s work, your ball and chain, is it a temporary place, a stepping stone, or a dream? Does it have a personality and quirks? Does it address your needs and desires? What do you love about it?

Love your home

When I give public seminars, I like to conclude with a simple but important notion encouraging everyone to “Love your Home”.

Let’s ponder on this idea – Loving Home – certainly we don’t want to put this love of an object before God and family or make it an idolatrous pursuit; however, it is important to understand the places we surround ourselves do greatly influence both our relationship with God and our relationship with family and others.

Who is your home? Do you know your home inside and out?  Do you consider it a member of your family?  In some ways it is.  It requires care and attention (we call this
upkeep and maintenance), it ages, it grows, it suffers from destruction, it shares our stories, memories, hopes, dreams and sorrows.  We invest in its longevity and we share it with loved ones.  It feels alive, almost living and breathing especially when inhabited, but when it is neglected or empty it falls quickly to disrepair and even dies.  It serves us as a protector, refuge, and sanctuary.

Show love to your home by: 

  • Showing each other love and respect.  Be gentle and loving: no slamming doors, no harsh words. Be forgiving and understanding.
  • Gather together. Bring family and friends together often, share joyous occasions.
  • Showing Respect for our home and furnishings – Gracious Living
  • Cleanliness shows loving and caring; it offers safety and peace of mind.  Clutter and filth are contentious, confusing and weighs us down spiritually, physically and emotionally.
  • Do your best to make your home presentable, get help where needed.
  • Give it its needs and some wants: This can be difficult with a tight budget, but understanding what the house needs and wants and budgeting accordingly will keep it well maintained.  Remember this isn’t your needs and wants, but your home’s needs and wants.  It may need a new roof or repair a leaky pipe, it may want a new faucet or addition.  Needs are necessary, wants are not.  Add your home to the Christmas and birthday gift list – it likes to be thought of and receive presents too!
  • Updates: It is amazing how good we look and feel with a new hair cut or new clothes – your home feels the same way!  Plan for interior painting every 7-10 years, replace wall to wall carpet every 7-10; this is good for your home, it keeps it and you healthy and strong.  We get stale, sloppy and lazy when surrounded by tired, old and cluttered décor.  Older homes need structural checks and electrical and plumbing updates for safety and longevity.

President Thomas S. Monson counsels: “May our families and homes be filled with love: love of each other, love of the gospel, love of our fellowman, and love of our Savior.  As a result, heaven will be a little closer here on earth.”  “May we make of our homes sanctuaries to which our family members will ever want to return.” First
presidency message,  Thomas S Monson, “Love at Home Counsel from our Prophet” Ensign August, 2011

Fill your home with love and always remember to Love your Home.

Living Graciously

“If men lived like men indeed, their houses would be temples — temples which we should hardly dare to injure, and in which it would make us holy to be permitted to live.” – John Ruskin

My college professor, Karla Nielson, would remind us that as interior designers we must educate our clients about gracious living.  People investing in quality materials and furnishings need to understand how to care for such things.  This idea applies to all of us, in all our homes.  By definition, being gracious is showing kindness and courtesy, being benevolent, merciful or compassionate.  It is a word used to describe being fortunate, prosperous, or happy.  It is characterized by elegance and honor.

This principle is an attitude of respect and reverence.  Whether our homes are lavish and plentiful or modest and meager, we must be respectful. Powder Room at Villa Vista LCK Interiors This is an incredibly valuable (and unfortunately, seemingly rare) lesson taught at home, especially to children.  Understanding how to treat things – your own and others’ – helps us to understand how we are to treat each other.  Destructive behavior is contentious and malicious.  Homes that are damaged by fault or accident need repairing. Caring is practiced, it is taught, it is gracious. This is a form of love.

Growing up, I was taught to appreciate nice things, we did not have much money or expensive things, but what we had was well cared for.  Clean and well cared for homes are welcoming; people tend to be more respectful when they enter such homes – there is an air of reverence, any other behavior would be unacceptable.  It isn’t about what we have, but how we keep it.

I find many of my clients with small children are afraid to put out nice things (or anything at all), invest in quality items because they are afraid their children will destroy it.  I encourage my clients to teach this idea of respect and care early on by doing just the opposite, put out nice things!  Allow your children to learn how to live with nice things.  Of course, use some judgment on what to put out, remember accidents can always occur – even with adults.  Perhaps great grandmother’s heirloom bowl which survived the Mayflower shouldn’t be in the center of a busy hallway; however, a few items could be on the end table in the living room.  The house shouldn’t feel unfinished because of fear.  When teaching use phrases like, “That is mommy’s and daddy’s”, “that is fragile”, “we don’t play with it”, “that is very special”.  This helps all of us to understand the difference between toys and other objects.

When we live graciously we are establishing the value of our home. What is the value of your home?  Beyond a monetary investment or the shelter it provides, is it a place of respect and reverence, is it a holy place?  John Ruskin wrote about and discussed the topic of value and worth, as described in the quote above, we can gather, if treat our homes as temples, we will be more holy ourselves.  President Spencer W. Kimball shared a short poem during the dedication of the Washington D.C. LDS Temple, this poem is also found engraved on the doors of old churches in England:

 Enter this door as if the floor within were gold;
And every wall of jewels all of wealth untold;
As if a choir in robes of fire were singing here;
Nor shout nor rush but hush … for God is here.”

May we enter our homes in that manner. May we live more graciously. May we treat our homes with more love, reverence and respect, that we might be holier by living there.

Inviting Christ into our Homes

There are many beautiful paintings depicting Jesus knocking at a door.  He knocks at a door which has no handle or knob on the outside, symbolic that if Christ is to come in we must open the door and let him in.  “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3: 20

This is intended as a proactive approach; we must actively allow Christ into our lives and homes and continually invite him back.  “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” D&C 88:62-63

A few years ago during a Sunday lesson a friend shared the following story, which serves to remind us to invite the Savior into all the rooms of our home and lives.

There was a young man who had many problems.  Always in his prayers he would pray for Jesus to come and visit him in his sufferings.  One day, Jesus knocks at his door.  He is amazed, invites him to come in through the entry and into the living room where Jesus sits down on the sofa.  On the table in front, there was an open Bible open to Psalm 91.

“I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.  Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” Psalm 91: 2-3, 9-11

On one wall there was a framed embroidery of Psalm 23  “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou annointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:1-6

And on the other wall was a picture of Jesus.

“My Lord”, the man said, “first of all I would like to say that it is an honor to have you at my house.  I believe you already know that I am going through a difficult time and I need your help…” 

“Son”, interrupted Jesus, “before we talk about your problems, I would like to see your house.  Where do you sleep?” At the same moment the man remembered that he had some things, in his bedroom, he did not want the Savior to see and so he rapidly gave the excuse: “No, no, we shouldn’t go there! My bedroom is a mess!” 

“Well then,” said Jesus, “what about the kitchen, can I see your kitchen?”  The man remembered he had some bottles of drinks on the counter, and didn’t want Jesus to see his bad habits.  He replied, “I am sorry, I would rather you didn’t go in there, you see my kitchen is empty, I don’t have anything good I can offer you”.

At this very moment a strong noise interrupts their conversation.  Bam, bam, bam… someone was furiously knocking on the front door.  The man stood up, very scared, he went to see who it was.  He opened the door and ihe was surprised, it was Satan.  “Get out of my way, I want to come in!” shouted the enemy.  “No way!” answered the man and they started to argue.  With great difficulty, the man was able to push Satan out and close the door. 

Tired from the fight, the man returned to the living room and continued: “Jesus, I need so many things…” But again their conversation was interrupted by a noise at the bedroom window.  The man ran to see what was going on, he opened the window and again it was Satan.  “I am going to come in!” Satan yelled.  One more time the man fought the devil and was just barely able to close the window. 

“My Lord, I am really sorry for the interruption, as I was saying…”  Then again from the back yard they could hear somebody trying to open the back kitchen door, it was Satan yet again declaring: “I want to come in, you will let me in!”  

The man, exhausted, still fought to keep Satan outside.  When he came back into the living room, he was very annoyed and said “Lord, I don’t understand, you are at my house and yet Satan insists on coming in.”  “Son, I think you know why that is”, explained the Savior, “at your house you only gave me the living room.”  The man humbly understood Jesus’ lesson and right away he began to clean up the house so that Jesus was welcome in every room. 

At this moment, the devil knocked again at the front door.  The man looked at Jesus not understanding why Satan would come back after he’d begun cleaning and then Jesus said “I’ll get the door.”  When Satan saw that it was Jesus who answered the door he said: “Oh, I’m sorry, I must be at the wrong house” and he went, quickly, on his way.

The story is symbolic of our hearts, sometimes we give Jesus only a small part of our heart, while we allow our doubts, fears, inadequacies, failures, and vices occupy the rest, we may fight but we cannot win when our heart is divided between two masters. 

Quite literally, this story exemplifies how our homes can invite our Savior into every room.  Perhaps we have only invited Christ into a few rooms of our home, perhaps the family room is inviting as long as the TV is showing uplifting and wholesome programs, but how quickly can that channel change?  Does the art hanging on the wall promote the Spirit of the Lord? Are there areas that, although quite neat and tidy, still need spiritually cleaning up? Our surroundings can help remind us of who we are to be, and who we are to follow.  

“This house shall be a healthful habitation if it be built unto my name, and if the governor which shall be appointed unto it shall not suffer any pollution to come upon it. It shall be holy, or the Lord your God will not dwell therein.” D&C 124:24

 Art: “Jesus knocking at the Door” Artist, Del Parson © 2002 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. http://lds.org/hf/art/display/1,16842,4218-1-2-80,00.html