I don’t know that I had a word from the Lord last year, but my husband did. Diligence. It looked like a 5” scar on the side of his hand as a result of putting a new roof on our house. Diligence called us home from Kenya, to a new church body, to a long remodel project, and two of the biggest family decisions we’ve ever made. I’m ready for a new year and a new word!

As I moved books and games into their new space, I also wanted to spruce up the rest of the house. Naturally, I turned to the internet for inspiration on how to do that. I came across the Nester’s site and a video series she wrote called the Cozy Minimalist. Those words rang in my ear…

Now, I don’t want to a minimalist that lives in a tiny house and can fit all my belongings in a FedEx box. But I longed for less maintenance with a warm touch. So I wrote down the words, Cozy, Beautiful, Minimal and decided these would be my words for 2016.

My first step was to make my space minimal. I spent weeks tearing through closets and drawers, throwing away everything unnecessary. Myquillyn told me to take everything off the walls and quiet the room.

As I quieted my house, I also saw the need to quiet my heart. I needed to strip down barefoot and naked before my Creator. I exposed all the nooks and crannies where I held old hurts and wounds. I filed through the records of my wrongs to others and their wrongs to me. I asked Him to help me clean it up. Throw it away. As He did, He asked me to write about the journey. So I began writing a book called Out of the Shadows and Into the Light, a story about unpacking my fear, shame and control I buried in a secret trunk in the bottom of my soul.

With my house a little quieter, I started looking for ways to make it beautiful again. I didn’t even know where to start! I didn’t know what style of beautiful I liked. Myquillyn told me to get on Pinterest and pin 50 rooms ideas that I liked to help me find my decorating style. So I did. After a while, I found a theme and began to decorate accordingly.

In my heart, the same process happened. One day I looked at my schedule for the week. I looked ahead a couple weeks later and my stomach knotted at what I saw. I saw myself running from the grocery store to gymnastics, fixing lunch to teaching phonics and leaving me no time to put gas in my tank. Like Thanksgiving lunch, my sweet potatoes were constantly running into my cranberry sauce with no divider. I had no space, no special place, no time for me. Depression clouded my usual sunny outlook on life, and I started to cry.

Then, a gentle whisper interrupted my tears. What would you like your days to look like?

I cried harder.

Does it matter? I thought back.

What say do I have in what my days look like?

I didn’t know my home style and I didn’t know my heart style. Somehow I had gotten so wrapped up in meeting everyone else’s needs, I forgot my own. I have a heart decoration style that loves beauty too. I have passions and interests that keep me being a whole person. But I felt it was selfish to decorate according to my desires.

I felt I had to always ask, How do you want this to look?

How do you want me to be? Ok, I can do that. I’ll figure it out.

Oh, so you like this design, this activity, this personality? I can make that happen.

Because that’s what I thought I did – I figure things out. I make a way. I’m strong, so here, let me carry that.

Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. I’m OK.

But I wasn’t.

I told my husband this year I want to be OK with how God made me. Oh how I wish I was a Marmee mom from Little Women. Soft spoken, kind, gentle, always self-controlled, never flying off the handle.

But I’m not. I’m more like Jo, and God made me that way. This year, I wanted to be OK with being me. I asked my husband to help me not feel guilty for creating the space that I need to be a whole person.

Now for cozy.  A cozy home is a place where my family can let their shoulders down. A house free of continuous clutter, with pieces of individual, intentional beauty spaced throughout the rooms. Not showcasing perfection, but character.

In my heart I want the same.

I want couches and chairs circling around a warm rug that invites conversation and creativity. I want the feel of a crackling fire, the smell of coffee brewing, and the taste of warm brownies, all year round. I want my home and my heart to be a place my family and friends feel at home and loved.

Before I can set out to build a strong family, I have to build a strong me. My prayer for 2016 is that I will rest in the fullness of God in my home and in my heart. I want to rest fully in His complete forgiveness and restoration. I don’t know exactly what that looks like, but I hope to continue writing about it. Writing breathes life into my soul and helps me straighten out the kinks this slinky of life tends to bring me. I hope you continue to join me.

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