I'm home on Christmas eve, and I'm glad all the way into the marrow of my bones. I'm home...my own home...where I can bake cookies in my own oven, whip up a batch of mashed potatoes on my own stove top, and listen to my "Scottish Christmas" CD.
The designer Coco Chanel, who owned enough houses and had enough of this world's wealth to know, once said about her favorite house, "It isn't the house...it's the life I live there."
I'm no longer impressed with grand houses. I used to be - not unhealthily, mind you - but impressed nonetheless. And I can still appreciate a beautiful Arts and Crafts bungalow, or French chateau-style architecture, or a rustic log cabin. But I have learned, up close and personal, that houses really do mean very little. It is the life lived inside the house, by the people in residence there, that makes the cold, attractive but inanimate piece of architecture a warm and welcoming haven...or a place where warmth might have been the goal, but it is rarely really felt.
As my blog header proudly declares, I live in suburbia, in a declining middle class neighborhood. So it isn't the house....it is the life I live here. I live soulfully and creatively, lovingly and yes, even artistically - all inside the walls of an unremarkable 60's rancher. I have personally shared the gospel with every single neighbor on my street, and even two houses on the street behind me, and even a street or two over, I can show you the homes of people whose lives I've been enabled to bless.
The sounds and smells and sights of Christmas fill this home to bursting. I'm sure there are a few grand and huge and beautiful homes, where the lives of the people living in them fill it with purposeful and artistic living, warmth and joy, perhaps even exceeding my own. But there probably aren't very many. A great deal of those kinds of houses are image props - beautiful boxes that must be artificially filled with stuff that reflects the sort of lifestyle that the owners want to live, but don't actually live.
And there are small houses, in declining middle class neighborhoods, in which joy cannot be found, where the family fabric is shredded, and warmth isn't even attempted.
See, it isn't the house, it's the life you live in it.
I'm home on Christmas eve, and I'm happy to the marrow of my bones. The life I live in this house is built on the foundation of grace - there is no other foundation to lay than that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ. And I have been very careful how I've built upon that foundation. I've made the tough choices that tend towards abundant life. Therefore, this home will be filled, throughout the day, with family and friends, just like every other day. They will all come and go and partake of the peace and loud laughter that fills these walls. Maybe someday I'll also be able to offer them all a hot drink inside a home that is bigger, with beautiful and far more interesting design - but it won't be the house that touches their heart. It will be the life I live inside the house.
I'm happy. To the marrow of my bones. That is what makes this home a haven.